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M. F. K. Fisher (1) vs. Serena Williams; Oscar Wilde advances

The best case yesterday was made by Manuel:

Leave Joe Pesci at home alone. Wilde’s jokes may be very old, but he can use slides from The PowerPoint of Dorian Gray.

As Martha put it, not great, but the best so far in this thread.

On the other side, Jonathan wrote, “I’d definitely rather hear Wilde, but I hate it when speakers aren’t live, and the video connections with Reading Gaol are lousy.”—which wasn’t bad—but then he followed it up with, “Please, though. No Frankie Valli stories.” If even the best Pesci endorsement is so lukewarm, we’ll have to go with Oscar to face off against hot dog guy in the next round.

Today our contest features the #1 food writer of all time vs. an unseeded GOAT. I’ve never actually read anything by M. F. K. Fisher but the literary types rave about her, hence her top seeding in that category. As for Serena Williams, I did go to the U.S. Open once but only to see some of those free qualifying rounds. So this particular matchup is a bit of a mystery to me. Whaddya got?

Again, the full bracket is here, and here are the rules:

We’re trying to pick the ultimate seminar speaker. I’m not asking for the most popular speaker, or the most relevant, or the best speaker, or the deepest, or even the coolest, but rather some combination of the above.

I’ll decide each day’s winner not based on a popular vote but based on the strength and amusingness of the arguments given by advocates on both sides. So give it your best!


  1. Jeff says:

    Fisher’s first book was “Serve It Forth,” which seems like good advice in tennis, as well. So, you’d get a two-fer there.

  2. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Serena would be great at an academic seminar. Just like academics, she has a contempt for referees, even while purporting to regard them as valuable. Just don’t let the Chair interrupt her!

  3. I was going to root for Fisher (whom I have never read) because her victory would make Auden happy. But then I thought about it some more and realized how incapable anyone is of *making* Auden happy–or unhappy, for that matter. In “The More Loving One,” he writes:

    Were all stars to disappear or die,
    I should learn to look at an empty sky
    And feel its total dark sublime,
    Though this might take me a little time.

    So with that motive gone or suspended, I vote for Williams. She’s likely to win a few matches before the end, and that’ll be fun. At the seminar itself, she might even treat us to a serve or two (not to mention a referee chew-out, as Jonathan noted). What could go wrong?

  4. Terry says:

    This is a toughie.

    An extremely articulate writer about food versus an extremely famous athlete whom I assume is inarticulate

    I lean strongly to the tales an articulate food critic could tell, but if Serena comes all roided up, it could be plenty entertaining. We would have to do something to get her on a tilt, or else it would be excruciating, though.

    In the end, Fisher wins. Food is tasty and I like food, so that is sure to be a good time. Serena, on the other hand, isn’t reliable entertainment because you can’t guarantee a good roid rage, and I would be driven to self harm if I have to endure a whole seminar about hitting a ball with a big flat thing.

  5. Dzhaughn says:

    As a Bayesian, you would not want to appear prejudiced against people named Fisher.

  6. mitzi says:

    > I’ve never actually read anything by M. F. K. Fisher but the literary types rave about her

    maybe they’ve never read her either – the writing is pretty cliched, the recipes are boring. as a speaker, I think she’d be both boring and cliched and more than a little condescending.

    another vote for Serena – what Jonathan (another one) said!

  7. Jan says:

    Serena is from Saginaw, nuf said! Fisher is from some sorta place called Albion, where even is dat?

  8. Tom says:

    Fisher wrote: “Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly”. Is there any chance we could get her up against the Japanese dude? Sublime vs Ridiculous, I’ll decline to say which is which.

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